A great workplace culture is one where everyone has an opportunity to succeed. Here are a few simple principles that we use ourselves to make sure we are succeeding and winning together in a way that is still enjoyable to be part of.

There is no doubt that ‘workplace culture’ is a complicated topic at the best of times. Everyone seems to have a slightly different view on what this really means. To us, it is the sum total of all behaviours associated with the company and its products/services. It is not something that can be owned just by Leaders, or HR, or any particular ‘culture champions’. It is owned by everyone. Here are three principles that we believe help to create a great workplace culture. We call them non-negotiables!

#1 – Creating a fair and valuable exchange

If you think about it, almost everything to do with work is based on the principle of exchange. A job is an exchange of x and y between company and employee, a conversation is an exchange of information between two or more people, a goal is an exchange of future intentions. What we know is that when you strip out all of the fluff that you read about in social media, what everyone really seems to want at work is to be part of a fair and valuable exchange. We know that if everyone is committed to this simple principle, a lot of workplace problems seem to disappear. So we made this something that we should not only commit to, but keep ourselves and everyone else accountable to it.

It’s actually a really simple idea. In every interaction with everyone you come in contact with, just make sure it is fair and valuable for everyone involved. It’s everyone’s responsibility! Sure there are going to be times where you think the balance of fairness and value is not weighed in your favour, but that brings us to the second principle.

#2 – If you have a problem or need help, speak up respectfully

We are all human beings with different perspectives of the world and have different ways of dealing with circumstances. Imagine how boring it would be if we were all the same! However, what this means is that to understand others, we need to be able to speak with them about it. The only way to truly understand something is to ask questions and exchange information as part of a conversation. Think about how many instant messages it takes to understand something that a one minute conversation could clear up instantly!

Consider this. If someone is upset about something but doesn’t say anything, who’s actually creating the problem? By making it everyone’s responsibility to speak up about what’s on their mind, it means that everyone doesn’t have to second guess if someone is needing help or upset about something.

However, this principle comes with an important prerequisite – speaking up needs to be respectful of others and conform to the principle of fair and valuable exchange. Constantly pointing out things that are wrong, or complaining about things that aren’t fair, isn’t really all that fair on others. Stomping towards the boss’s door every time something isn’t going your way is hardly fair on them, in the same way that ignoring appeals for help is not fair nor valuable. Reacting poorly to bad news or spreading gossip about someone who is going through a rough time is hardly a fair and valuable exchange. I am sure you get where we are going with this.

With these two principles in place, it makes this next principle much easier.

#3 – We all have our jobs to do, so lets do them

When I ask someone ‘what does your job involve’, I have never ever had anyone tell me that their job is to gossip, bully, discriminate or make life difficult for people around them. Even if a job description isn’t totally clear, rarely will anyone’s job involve any of these things. This simple principle is about focusing on doing what we are paid to do, and achieving what we set out to achieve. Sure there are plenty of speed bumps and problems that will surface on the journey, but let’s just get our jobs done to the best of our ability.

And this is where My Employee Life fits in. By focusing on things that matter and improving them continuously over time, everyone is in a better position to succeed.

Should you implement the same principles?

Every workplace is different, however what we know is that the principles of success are largely the same. Set clear expectations and priorities, consistent non-negotiables that apply to everyone, and then encourage better conversations and interactions whilst creating momentum. Our suggestion is to discuss it with your teams and see what they think. The only people who can create your culture are the people involved, so it’s not a bad place to start.

And if you need some help to implement or want to discuss how to go about it, get in touch with us. We have something simple and effective to share with you.